Milwaukee Brewers: 15 Greatest Pitchers in Franchise History
By Matt Carroll
Here is a ranking of the 15 greatest pitchers in Milwaukee Brewers franchise history.
6. LHP Mike Caldwell
8 seasons, 102-80, 1604.2 IP, 17.3 bWAR, 3.74 ERA, 1.284 WHIP, 2 saves
A final member of the late 70s to early 80s starting rotation makes his way on to our top 15 list in Mike Caldwell. Not only did he work his way up the team’s statistical leaderboards in his eight years on the mound for the Brewers, he brought home wins in a couple of the biggest games in franchise history.
Caldwell started off his career with the San Diego Padres, then made another couple stops before being traded to the Brewers in the middle of the 1977 season for a pair of minor leaguers. His impact was felt immediately.
In 1978, his first full season with Milwaukee, Caldwell easily had the best season of his career. In 37 games (34 starts), he went 22-9 and had a career best 2.36 ERA and 1.064 WHIP with a whopping 23 complete games, which led the league and is still a single-season Brewers record. Sadly, he would fall just short of the franchise’s first every Cy Young, finishing runner up to the Yankees’ Ron Guidry.
Caldwell would be a fixture in the rotation for the next six seasons and in 1982 would receive another sort of honor: being named the game one starter of the World Series.
The lefty would pitch a masterpiece, giving up just three hits and a walk with three strikeouts in a complete game shutout to give the Brewers an early series lead. Caldwell would pick up another win in game five, giving up four runs on 14 hits and a couple walks over 8 1/3 innings in the victory.
Caldwell still holds single-season franchise marks with his 22 wins, 2.36 ERA, 23 complete games, and six shutouts and his 8.2 pitcher bWAR is the second highest in a season for Milwaukee. Caldwell also owns the franchise’s career record for complete games (81), a mark that will likely never be broken, and is among the team’s top 10 pitchers in career pitcher’s bWAR (17.3, 6th), ERA (3.74, 8th), and wins (102, 2nd).
5. RHP Rollie Fingers
4 seasons, 13-17, 259 IP, 7.9 bWAR, 2.54 ERA, 1.081 WHIP, 97 saves
There’s a good chance that former Brewers closer Rollie Fingers was already on his way to Hall of Fame enshrinement before he even got to Milwaukee in the previously mentioned 1980 trade. He definitely sealed that legacy once he got here, though.
By the time the man with the famous mustache arrived here, he was already a five-time All-Star, a three-time World Series champion, and a World Series MVP from his appearance in 1974. Brewers fans were hoping he could carry them to the promised land as well.
Fingers was nothing short of stellar in his first season for the Crew. Sporting 28 saves on a 1.04 ERA and 0.872 WHIP and holding hitters to a .198 average, he won both the team’s very first AL Cy Young and AL MVP awards in franchise history.
Fingers was excellent again, tallying another 29 saves with a 2.60 ERA and 1.042 WHIP. Unfortunately, injuries would cause him to miss the team’s only ever World Series trip in 1982 and he would miss the following season due to injury as well.
Fingers would pitch two more seasons for Milwaukee before calling it quits, solidifying his Hall of Fame case. He currently sits third in franchise history with his 97 Brewers saves and held the MLB record with 341 before it was broken just under a decade later. His No. 34 is one of the few numbers ever retired by the Milwaukee Brewers.